The Illegal Bush Meat Trade

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The second half of the 20th century has seen the continent of Africa in continuous turmoil. Civil wars, the AIDS epidemic, deforestation, and desertification are just a few of the problems facing Africa. A more recent threat to this ancient and fragile environment has emerged and is quickly gaining strength at devouring life – the bush meat trade. "Bush meat" refers to the smoked carcasses of various wild, and often endangered species that are sold illegally at rural markets of undeveloped countries and even at ethnic markets in developed nations. The meat of gorillas, chimpanzees, and elephants are considered delicacies and the demand for these endangered species is increasingly high. Countries at the center of this crisis are Botswana, Mozambique, Kenya, Zimbabwe, the Congo, Cameroon, Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania. Bush meat plays a crucial socio-economic role to many in Africa, and as such epitomizes the need to balance protection against such factors as poverty, health, and food security. Certain key issues are necessary to understand the bush meat trade: 1. Bush meat is not purely a tropical forest-related phenomenon, but is Africa-wide and indeed a global problem. - Bush meat utilization is a significant conservation, economic, and cultural issue in non-forested areas of eastern and southern Africa - Bush meat is regarded as one of the most beneficial wildlife resources available to local communities. Demand is high and is increasing at alarming rates 2. Bush meat crucial as a source of cheap protein for malnourished people throughout Africa - Over 90% of rural peoples in Central Africa eat less than half of the recommended protein intake 3. With growing populations, demand for bush meat will continue to grow 4. Poverty in the face of diminishing alternative resources, means that traditional taboos restricting the consumption of certain animals is increasingly ignored -Some claim that since we humans are 97% related...
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